Could a husband claim a share in his ex-wife’s lottery win? Which case won?
Wife buys winning lottery ticket after separating from husband
The couple had been married for 20 years at the time of separation in July 2008. They had two adult children and owned real estate together.
In early 2009, six months after they had separated and while they were still negotiating the terms of the property settlement between them, the wife purchased a lottery ticket and won $6 million.
The husband contended that the wife had purchased the lottery ticket with “joint funds”, he had therefore contributed to the winnings and they should be considered a joint asset of the marriage. The husband sought 50% of his ex-wife’s lottery winnings.
The wife disagreed, and the matter came before the Family Court for a determination on this and other matters that were in dispute between the couple.
Trial judge divides parties’ assets into two pools
At trial, Her Honour Judge Stevenson divided the parties’ property into two pools.
Pool 1 consisted of the parties’ asset pool at the time of separation, which had a net value of $2,437,990. Pool 2 consisted of the wife’s winnings and assets derived post-separation. This pool by that time had a net value of $3,368,530.
Her Honour divided Pool 1 equally (50:50), with each party receiving approximately $1.2 million.
Her Honour determined that although the husband made no contribution to the post-separation winnings, he was entitled to $500,000 or 10% of Pool 2 (90:10) due to factors such as the large disparity in the parties’ financial resources and the husband’s limited employment.
The husband appealed this decision to the Full Court of the Family Court.